american brewing

Book Reviews : American Gods by Neil Gaiman

As much as I don’t want to say it, this was like Percy Jackson for adults. The main character did seem a bit blank but towards the end of the story, I started to appreciate why that was. I also enjoyed how this book wasn’t centered on just one mythical diety or religious figure. The new gods totally make sense and I was impressed with all the “new gods.” All in all, I liked this book.

3

Catching up on American Craft Beer Week!

Hop Flight!

Juicifer from Gnarly Barley, Today Is Just Yesterday’s Tomorrow from Evil Twin, Syncopation from Southern Prohibition Brewing and A Giant Hop Fir Mankind from Bayou Teche!

This DIPA from Wiseacre Brewing was very good and sweet, Adjective Animal!

Stout and Sour Flight!

Pe Kan from Prairie Artisan Ales, Tin Cup Camp Milk Stout from Burial Brewing, Double Dry Hopped Lowerline from NOLA Brewing and Hurricane Saison from NOLA Brewing!

El Dorado by Rainy Daze Brewing

Cheers For Seattle Beers! Part Four. My wife and I took a short jaunt up to the Pacific Northwest to visit the great city of Seattle. We loved the architecture, the food, the museums, the nature, the coffee and yes, the beer too.

We took a day trip to Bainbridge Island, which is only about a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle. It’s certainly a different feel. Quaint small town. Forested nature trails and rocky beaches. A nice break from the city. Beer was not one of the main reasons we went. We actually drank more wine because that seemed to be a big thing on this island. But pizza and beer go together well and this restaurant, That’s A Some Pizza (try saying that with a stereotypical Italian accent), had one from a brewery on the island so I had to try it. 

El Dorado by Rainy Daze Brewing is an American pale ale and a good example of the style, somewhat similar to Sierra Nevada. The hop flavor is a good mi of citrus and pine. The malt profile is also a good mix of dough and biscuit. Everything is balanced quite well. There’s nothing really spectacular or unique about this beer but it is a solid pale ale and you can’t go wrong with that. 

Bravo Brown is a American #BrownAle style #beer brewed by @firestonewalker. in Paso Robles, #california with a 95 out of 100 on @beeradvocate. Pineapple for scale .
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Firestone Walker brews the 2017 Vintage of Bravo, an Imperial #BrownAle aged in retired American oak bourbon barrels. A single-hopped strong brown ale brewed using the hop variety Bravo. This beer is then aged for up to a year in circa 1990’s used Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.
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Deep cherry brown which has a very thin creamy head with a good carbonation. Aroma of coconut and bourbon. Tastes similar to the nose. Mouthfeel is smooth with a lot of alcohol warmth. Overall it’s a good bourbon barrel aged beer.

Diaspora: Notable German- Americans

German Americans are the USA’s #1 heritage group and have been influential in almost every field in American society, including science, architecture, business, sports, entertainment, theology, politics, and the military. Famous German-Americans include:

MILITARY: Baron von Steuben, John Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chester W. Nimitz, Carl Andrew Spaatz, Norman Schwarzkopf 

POLITICIANS: Carl Schurz, Friedrich Hecker, Frederick Muhlenberg, Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and Sr., Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Henry Kissinger, and John Boehner

INDUSTRY & BUSINESS: Henry J. Heinz, (Heinz ketchup), Frank Seiberling (Goodyear Tires), Walt Disney (Disney), John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil), William Boeing (The Boeing Company/United Airlines), Walter Chrysler (Chrysler Corp), Frederick & August Duesenberg (Duesenberg Automobile Corp), Studebaker brothers (Studebaker Automobile Corp), George Westinghouse (Westinghouse Electric Corporation), Levi Strauss (Levi’s jeans), Charles Guth (Pepsi cola), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Elon Musk (SolarCity/SpaceX/Tesla Motors), James L. Kraft (Kraft Foods), Henry E. Steinway (Steinway & Sons pianos), Charles Pfizer (Pfizer, Inc.), Donald Trump (The Trump Org), John Jacob Astor (Waldorf Astoria Hotels), Conrad Hilton (Hilton Hotels), Guggenheim family (Guggenheim Foundation), Marcus Goldman (Goldman Sachs), Lehman Brothers, Carl Laemmle (Universal Studios), Marcus Loew (MGM Studios), Harry Cohn (Columbia Pictures), Herman Hollerith (IBM)), Steve Jobs (Apple Inc.), Michael Dell (Dell Inc.), Eric Schmidt (Google), Peter Thiel (PayPal Inc.), Adolph Simon Ochs and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger (The New York Times), Charles Bergstresser (The Wall Street Journal), Al Neuharth (USA Today), Eugene Meyer (The Washington Post) etc.

BEER BREWING: German Americans were pioneers and dominated beer brewing for much of American history, beginning with breweries founded in the 19th century by German immigrants August Schell (August Schell Brewing Company), Christian Moerlein (Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.), Eberhard Anheuser (Anheuser-Busch), Adolphus Busch (Anheuser-Busch), Adolph Coors (Coors Brewing Company), Frederick Miller (Miller Brewing Company), Frederick Pabst (Pabst Brewing Company), Bernhard Stroh (Stroh Brewery Company), and Joseph Schlitz (Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company). 

ARCHITECTS, SCIENTISTS & ASTRONAUTS: Brooklyn Bridge engineer John A. Roebling and architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe left behind visible landmarks. Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Wernher von Braun, John Peter Zenger, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Weizenbaum etc. set intellectual landmarks while Neil Armstrong was the first human to land on the moon.

HOLLYWOOD PEOPLE & SPORTS ATHLETES & MUSIC: Still others, such as Bruce Willis, George Eyser, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jack Nicklaus, Doris Day, Grace Kelly, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Johnny Weissmuller, Ernst Lubitsch, Walter Damrosch, John Denver, John Kay, Meryl Streep, Kim Basinger, Sandra Bullock, David Hasselhoff, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirsten Dunst, Kevin JameS, and Steven Spielberg became prominent athletes, actors, film directors or artists.

Kung Fu Grip IPA by ABGB

I always like to go to ABGB when they have a new IPA because their regular one, Superliner, isn’t very good to me. However, their hoppy red ale, Big Mama Red, is probably my favorite Austin beer period so it’s a trade-off. Kung-Fu Grip, undoubtedly named for the piece of graffiti that graces the train bridge over Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, is pretty good. It’s more of a session beer or American pale ale that full-on IPA in my opinion. The hop flavor does have that telltale Mosaic weirdness but it’s balanced enough so it’s not too overpowering. The hop bitterness is at a good level and there is a juicy citrus thing going to that’s nice. Biscuity malt forms the backbone. I’d take this over Superliner any day.    

2

Odell “Loose Leaf”

81 B-


Loose Leaf is a so-called “session ale,” categorized as an American Blonde Ale. This is a new release with year-round availability. Aromas come across with abundant citrus highlights, lemongrass, sage, tea, pilsner and pale grains with hints of buttered bread.


The palate begins with floral hops while lemon flavors begin to percolate up toward the upper register. Grassy undertones unfold from the middle, delivering a mild bitterness that pairs with a climax of sharp carbonation. Malts wash up in subtle flavors of dough, cereal grain, and corn. Hops enclose the back-end with a pronounced upswing of sour citrus zest, finishing in flavors of stone fruit. The mouthfeel is a little abrasive on the carbonation, light bodied with a crisp, semi-dry conclusion.


Overall, I find this a refreshing thirst quencher, easy to drink, and hard to put down. It’s got the hop flavor of a light pale ale combined with the malt flavor of a blonde ale. No frills here. Loose Leaf is a decent sessionable beer, but it’s all just standard operating procedure. It’s not the best session ale, but maybe worth checking out if you have a palate geared toward a lighter hop load.


4.5%

? IBU

Fort Collins, Colorado

2

Oskar Blues “G'Knight”

87 B+


G'Knight is a hybrid Strong Ale with Imperial IPA tendencies. Due to the heavy addition of amber malts, Oskar Blues have appropriately deemed this an “Imperial Red IPA” (a non-existent style). Aromas give tropical hop notes that remind me Juicy Fruit gum. Citric characters smell like grapefruit and blood orange. Herbal characters rest below with hints of evergreen and pepper spice. Malts come across like Golden Crisp cereal, bready grains, and toffee.


The palate opens in a creamy flood of sweet malts, flavored like caramel and syrup. Fruity flavors unfold into suggestions of papaya, apricot, then candied orange peel. At this point, grapefruit becomes the focal point as the sour element reaches its climax, then collides with a well-controlled, sappy bitterness. Sweetness continues to accumulate into thicker layers of raw cane sugar. Herbal hops encroach from the rear, delivering a bitter payload that leaves behind a final kiss of spice. The mouthfeel gives light, supportive carbonation over a rounded, medium weight body. Sticky sugars and clingy hop oils are left behind, culminating to a semi-dry conclusion. Alcohol gives a light touch of warmth, but the flavor is well-concealed.


The balance holds steady, despite the strength of the two prime ingredients. Hop flavors are practically bursting, and the bitterness is actually pretty tame at only 60 IBU’s. Since this is somewhat of a fusion beer, it’s difficult to judge, because there’s not much frame of reference. Regardless of the style, G'Knight delivers good flavor and drinkability, plus you can’t beat the pint can! I recommend it.


8.7%

60 IBU

Longmont, Colorado or Brevard, North Carolina

The pineal gland and / or third eye is the gateway to out of body journeys.

The pineal gland produces:

- Melatonin: Natural sleep chemical, that helps you get that deep sleep where your body regenerates

- Serotonin: Neurotransmitter, that regulates your mood and helps with cognitive functions as memory and learning.

- DMT: Dimethyltryptamine short DMT is also known as the spirit/dream molecule. All mammals produces this naturally and its linked to dream phenomenas. DMT can also be found in various plants and has been used be indigenous tribes all over the world. The South Americans make a brew called ayahuasca using two plants one containing high amounts of DMT (Psychotria Viridis) and one as an activator / inhibitor to start the process faster(Banesteriopsis Capii). The mixture is made by a Shaman with right knowledge and insight. The Shaman also supervises the ceremony. The DMT in the ayahuasca brew stimulates the natural occurring DMT in the body and activates the third eye, sending them on their journey in to the spirit world and into them selves.

Reports from people who have tried ayahusca states that in can be a very overwhelming experience if you are not properly prepared, because it cleans out your entire body mentally, emotionally, spirtually and physically, so if you have some worked up issues you will be confronted by them, but its a healthy process and the people say they come out refreshed, clear minded and maybe have another perspective of the world, because of what they have experienced.

Scientist have measured a high amount of DMT production, when a person is dying and its said to be the spirit leaving the body.

So when you take DMT you get this out of body experience, because you are crossing over to the other side, but your body is in meditative state.

So maybe dreams are more real than we think?

2

Dark Horse “Fore Smoked Stout”

90 A-


Fore Smoked Stout is an American Stout featuring peat-smoked malts. This is a winter seasonal belonging to their “holiday stout” series, released in January, and sold in four-packs (I can’t believe I’ve been sitting on this for one year). Aromas resemble charred hickory, dark chocolate, burned coffee, molasses, walnuts, and a faint hint of berries.


The palate makes a roasty start like a bar of dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, then dark roasted coffee notes begin to take hold. Details of toasted hazelnut and oat grains fill the middle register. Burnt caramels fall to the back in mild sweetness, which then confront a roasted bitterness to unite in agreeable balance. Alcohol adds a touch of fennel before the closing, where it ends on somewhat of a sour note with a whisper of fruit released from the hops. The aftertaste leaves a lingering taste of campfire smoke and barbecue. Mouthfeel is super creamy and smooth, then gentle carbonation gives way to a dry conclusion.


Overall, I find very little influence from hops – this is all about the malts, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The elements of bitter, sweet, and sour don’t necessarily fall in sequence, but everything eventually comes together harmoniously. The smoked grains magnify the roast in a complementary flavor reminiscent of barbecued meat over coals. Its dark complexity could almost be compared to the depth of a Double Stout. Dark Horse know how to work those malts. They sure can brew up there in Michigan! If you’re a Stout lover, go get it for the holidays. I recommend it.


7.0%

? IBU

Marshall, Michigan

2

Shipshape and Bristol Fashion

The proud West Country city of Bristol ain’t short of it’s fair share of killer breweries, with the likes of Arbor Ales, Moor Beer Co, The Bristol Beer Factory, The Wild Beer Co, and Bath Ales firmly established, these lot know a thing or two about quality beer. Wiper and True are a fairly new addition to the roster, from homebrewing to nomadic brewing around the south west of England to a new brewery in their home city, they’ve developed quite a reputation in the last couple of years and I thought it was about time I looked into what all the fuss was about.

To get me started I thought I’d try a couple of their contemporary spins on some traditional English brews, and Bristol being a maritime city I deemed to pick styles known for being shipped to the wider world as well as the local pub. So India pale ale and Russian imperial stout then. Except that I couldn’t find a RIS, don’t think they’ve made one. I am far too presumptuous. Export stout then. Sorted.

India Pale Ale Citra (6.7% abv) An American style IPA this one, and packin’ one of my most favouritest, bestalicious hops. The mighty Citra. And aye, it’s a superb drop. That over-hopping delivers flavours of juicy, overripe orange, guava, passion fruit, and grapefruit that are joined by piney, floral undertones and eventually the subdued caramelised biscuit-like malt. It’s bitter-sweet, dry, and pretty dank and resinous for a UK brewed American-ish style IPA (or at least, more so than the bright and breezy ones I usually drink), and I’m absolutely diggin’ it! A stellar start indeed.

Export Stout Topaz (6.2% abv) follows, loaded with a hefty dose of Australian Topaz hops. Now, I gotta say I’m not all that familiar with Topaz in isolation, but I am familiar with well hopped English export stouts so, throwing caution to the wind I dive in. It kinda tastes like a mouthful of coffee grounds, cacao nibs, charcoal, and Eccles cakes. The big, bitter hop finish brings whole bramble bushes weighed down with juicy blackberries and hints of more exotic fruits, and lingers for an age, leaving me somewhat breathless in appreciation. Bold, roasty, and bitter, a proper top tier brew. Just brilliant.

And I’m done, my brief dalliance with this small brewery with distinctive branding and big ideas a resounding two thumbs up. I’ll be on the lookout for more of their beers and will make an effort to grab them at every opportunity. If you’re based in the UK and you’ve yet to try them, I heartily encourage you to do the same. Cheers!

3

Title: Intersections
Pairing: Open interpretation of Dan x Phil, Dan x reader, or Phil x reader (for the reader, picture her as a YouTuber)
Rating: M (for smut… please be nice since the narrator can be seen as male or female)
Quote inspiration (yay first time I was inspired by something that doesn’t involve music): “You are the faint line between faith and blindly waiting.” – From Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (@beforethebraces and I saw this book at a Barnes and Noble. We love this book & it’s chock full of perfect quotes to use for fanfics. I 11/10 recommend getting it)
Word count: 6,861
Summary: “Nothing in life is predictable, but I never would have predicted that he would change his mind.” When the lives of two people intersect again, will it become a second chance to restore the bits of their past that hasn’t completely faded away?

Hey lovelies! I’ve been noticing that I’m one of those Dan and Phil writers that write phanfics and reader insert fics. There’s nothing wrong with shipping Phan while still writing imagines. I’m one of those kind of readers that will love a piece of writing as long as it’s written extremely well, regardless of the shipping used (Ex: Pokemon fics… and no I won’t go into detail over what poke ships I support/iffy about because once I name a ship the anti-shippers of that ship will butt in). We’re so accustomed to ship wars that we tend to forget that what really matters in a story is a story itself, not the pairing.

This is what this fanfic is about. I don’t know if this thing has ever been done in the Dan and Phil fandom, but I quite like this idea. This story will have no clear pair. I’m leaving it up to you guys to insert your preferred Dan and Phil pairing. If you love Phan, use as Phan. If you love Dan x reader or Phil x reader, use as reader insert. You decide who’s the narrator and who’s the love interest.

For the part of the phandom that may be thinking “why the hell should this piece of writing be associated with a reader insert imagine?” Well here’s the thing. Fantastic Dan and Phil fanfics don’t always use Phan as the main shipping. I’ve read some reader insert fanfics with writing that’s not too shabby. But reader insert don’t always get the love it deserves, just because people who read reader insert fics are “fanfic newbs” (I’m not joking guys I was called this on Twitter and I’m still raging). It’s an insult to people who have bright imaginations and to people, like me, that has an open mind to read anything.

So you know what? I wrote this fic to change your perspectives. I’m testing to see what would happen if I post a Dan and Phil fic written for both my Phan readers (don’t be shy to send me a request to do a phanfic guys I will write anything really… even if it’s phan smut because I gotta work on slash smut) and my reader insert readers (ya’ll are not fanfic newbs… we are the part of the phandom that have creative imaginations and until Dan and Phil get girlfriends or Phan is real because c’mon there’s so much potential for Phan to carry out into this reality the imagines will keep flowing like a raging current). Everyone has different cups of tea of what they like to read. It’s also a personal writing challenge for me since it’s tough to write a narrator that can be male or female. Ya’ll have no idea how much hypothetical gray hair sprouted on my head.

Okay long beginning A/N over. I’m gonna let you go now. We won’t be having this conversation again (I’m guilty of watching that DO NOT CLICK! vid of Dan’s way too many times for a laugh).

—O— —O— —O—

The fire remains raging in my chest. Once in a while, its flames will spread elsewhere, the heat licking right below the surface of my skin. The oranges and reds were once at their brightest. Now the colors have dimmed, a battery running low on energy.

The electricity is fading, but it hasn’t gone out completely.

People come and go. He crushed through the walls built around my heart. As every slab of concrete chipped away, I snipped away the strings of resistance. I swallowed the fears and doubts that constantly bubbled in my head. I started to reach for a rope that promised me eternal happiness.

I lived on optimism that there’s always a light at the end of every tunnel.

Nothing in life is predictable, but I never would have predicted that he would change his mind. The moment he walked away as a stranger, I was left in the aftermath of a hurricane. My emotions were all over the place. For months, I tried to find myself again. I wandered through my existence in an attempt to recover who I was before I met him.

That former self is long gone.

People ask me if I’m fine without him. For a while, I wasn’t. I couldn’t breathe without being in his radar.

It has been two years. Time is supposed to heal all bruises. I still have the scars. I haven’t given up the battle. I’m moving forward, though I’m still looking back.

I’m still holding on to a possibility that the past can be a future.

~:~

It isn’t over until fate says it’s over. When he first came into my life, he was an angel dropped from heaven.

When he makes a return, the gates of heaven reopened, a pure mist masking the figure of a demon in the guise of an angel.

In the busy hours of a city populated by the thousands, I’m one amongst dozens of others awaiting to cross the road. It’s the same street at the same intersection that I walk, to the same Starbucks that I order the same coffee that fuels me to stay awake for another day. Every day is a repetitive motion. Every day is living another day fortunate to have a beating heart.

Every day is another day being without him.

The stoplight changes from red to green. I blend through the crowd, following the movement of bodies to the other side. I’ve gotten used to the morning rush hour. I’m one more human out of the constant stream of people and a flurry of voices. Outside the flat, I’m another person. I’m another living specimen navigating their lonely life.

It’s at this intersection where it began, and it’s this intersection that opens up a second beginning.

Nothing bizarre occurs until I’m on the other side and a body collides against my back.

I huff, irritation flowing through my veins. “Watch where you’re going.”

“Sorry.”

I’m caught off guard. The single word is spoken from a voice that I’m familiar with, the same one that whispered “goodbye” before he walked out my life.

Or so I thought.

I turn around. Standing there is the man that I least expected to see today.

I stare at the face of the person that once belonged to me, with hands that I used to hold and legs that used to chase me at a wooden cabin deep in the woods that used to be ours. Even with the time that passed, nothing has changed. He still looks the same. What I see is the same man that stayed up late during summer nights and spent hours talking to me on the phone when we’re away from each other.

“Hi,” he says.

“Hey.” I don’t know what to say. This is an encounter that is supposed to remain as a dream. This kind of moment doesn’t always happen beyond the big screen. Yet here we are, an ironic, iconic moment where we reunite at the same place we shared our first kiss, beneath a lamppost that served as a beacon of light. I can still recall the joy that ran through my body as our lips mashed and the tips of our tongues touched one another.

“It’s been a while since I last saw you.” His eyes scans me from head to toe, analyzing who he unintentionally bumped into. “How have you been?”

“I’ve been okay.” Okay is an understatement. Words are indescribable to compare the range of emotions I have on a daily basis. When he’s not on my mind, I feel normal. But the moment he crosses my mind or I’m with someone that mentions him in the conversation, my mind loses it. It takes all my willpower not to break and let my feelings spill.

“I see.”

“How are you doing?” Have you moved on? is a sentence I want to add. Two years, twenty-four months, numerous seconds spaced between then and now. Somewhere in that duration, surely he could have met someone else. Maybe there’s a different person that’s filling the void.

“Well, I suppose. I’ve been pretty busy.”

Busy with what? Busy with his career? Busy moving on? Busy with forgetting? The word is too vague. The word implies too many questions that I want to ask.

“Alright then.” It’s too much to read into his words. Without coffee, my mind is muddled and my thoughts don’t function properly. If I don’t separate myself from him now, I could say something that I can’t take back later.

“Right.” He nods. “I have to go meet someone. Maybe I’ll see you around?”

We went this long with no contact. What are the chances we’ll even run into each other again? Destiny is for foolish thinkers who rely on a nonexistent force to make their wishes come true. When we parted, I learned the hard way that patience is not always a virtue. Even though time can’t be controlled, our actions were. If he wanted to, he would have came back to me. If he wanted to take it back, he would have done so already.

“Yeah. It was nice seeing you.”

“Hmmm…” His eyebrows crinkle, a habit he has when he scrutinizes something. “Are you by any chance heading to Starbucks?’

He still remembers. He knows about my regular dependency on caffeine. He was the one that once gave me a Starbucks gift card before a big exam. He didn’t want me to do an all-nighter, and he worried that I’d start searching for alternatives like Red Bull (which I realized isn’t the same as a standard, traditional English/American freshly brewed cup of coffee).

I crack a smile. “Starbucks still has my back.”

“As always.“

Is he trying to prolong the conversation? I’m still processing what’s happening. One half of me wants to continue to talk to him. The other half wants to search for the nearest opportunity to flee. The smallest of fractional instincts wants to slap him and tell him that he was the cause of my sorrow and emotional solitude for the last two years.

“We should get coffee sometimes.” His lips incline upward, into the littlest of smiles that implies a silent hint. “It would be nice to do a little catching up.”

A possibility. A window opening up a chance for an authentic dream. I stopped waiting for this chance when reality showed me a clarity that fate doesn’t always works in ways that we want it to be. Sometimes, fate has plans that we can’t accept, but have to obey anyway in order to keep moving forward.

“That sounds great.”

“Awesome! Would Saturday work for you? I won’t be doing anything.”

Saturday is two days away. That’s enough time for me to compose myself.

“I’m free on Saturday too.”

He gives me a time. Promises me that he’ll be there. Utters my name once before he sets off in a different direction.

I don’t keep my hopes up. If he does show up, it’s only so we can have a casual talk. We’ll be two acquaintances revisiting events we experienced without the other around. We’ll be two people that, at one time, labeled themselves as soulmates.

Soulmates.

We chose to be together. He chose to end what we had.

That in itself doesn’t make us soulmates at all.

~:~

He’s sitting at a corner two-seater table, sipping from a Grande-sized Starbucks cup. It’s probably a white chocolate latte. He prefers lattes over frappes.

I don’t have a preference. I order what my mouth is in the mood for tasting.

Avoiding his expectant gaze, I walk up to the counter and order a Venti caramel macchiato. I stand off to the side and wait for my order. The seconds tick away. This is the meeting that I’m not one hundred percent ready for. Despite my eagerness to learn what he has been up to since we last spoke, it’s difficult for me to be in the same environment as him. If I can’t handle his presence, how can I handle having a conversation, much less if he might ask me to meet up again?

“One Venti caramel macchiato.”

I’m here now. Before, I didn’t fight when he chose to flight. There will be no running. If he runs, I’ll run after him. I’ll gulp down my fears and make this right.

I grab my drink. With an indifferent expression on my face, I head over to the table that he’s sitting at.

“Hi.” He smiles, setting aside his cup. “I thought you couldn’t make it.”

I put my cup down, taking the empty seat directly across from him. “It’s not raining. It’s nice to spend the day out.”

“Still like being indoors most of the time?”

“Indoors is where I don’t have to talk to people.”

I glance out the window. Gray clouds cluster the sky in thick airy masses. If it’s not raining now, it could rain later. With the bundle of nerves coiled in my stomach, I completely forgot to bring an umbrella with me. I cross my fingers that the hood of my jacket will be enough to protect me should the dreary weather come.

There’s a red umbrella on the floor next to his feet. He must have checked the weather forecast before going out. There were days that he would never leave the flat without an umbrella if there were any signs that it won’t be sunny.

“So.” He folds his arms on the smooth surface of the table. “What’s been going on with you? I met with Zoe a few weeks ago and she told me she hasn’t seen you in a while too.”

If “by a while” means two months, then that counts. After we stopped speaking to each other, I had irregular contact with my friends. I didn’t drop them altogether, although there were days when I was in the mood to be by myself. But I didn’t become an unsocial hermit. I talked to them when I need to. I didn’t want to worry them further after the first few depressing weeks without him.

Two months without contact with Zoe is the longest that I went without communicating with my friends. When he and I went our separate ways, she and Louise were two of the first people I went to. Louise let me stay at her place overnight. Zoe went to the nearest stores and bought as much candy as she could purchase. They were the ones that helped me get back up on my feet. They cared so much that they barely spoke about him around me. When they did, it was to give me a small update on how he’s doing.

Zoe is vacationing with Alfie in Puerto Rico, which is why I haven’t seen her lately. She’s supposed to be back sometime next week.

“Same old, same old,” I reply. “Still living the YouTube dream. Still loving Tumblr. Still have friends. Still me, I guess.”

“I can see that. Looks like nothing changed.”

Nothing changed? Everything has changed, thanks to you.

“Nothing stays the same.” Underneath the table, my fingers fiddle with the zipper of my jacket. “Seasons change. Leaves fall from trees. Dark turns to light. Caterpillars turn to butterflies. If things stay the same, things remain dull.”

A flicker of surprise reaches his facial features. He probably didn’t anticipate hearing this from me within the first five minutes of our meeting. He should have seen it coming. He knows about my strange perceptions of the world.

“That’s true.“ He moves his arms so one of his palms lie on the table and the other rests directly above that hand. “There are things that stay the same. Matter never disappears. Water can turn to gas or ice, but still be water. The earth hasn’t ceased to exist. There are things that don’t change, and those things are important to keeping us alive.”

“Are you using science as a rebuttal?”

“Science isn’t wrong.”

I don’t hold back the chuckle that falls from my lips. “What would we do without science?”

“Precisely.”

There’s one thing he’s missing. If things that remain the same is important, why didn’t he believe our relationship was worth keeping? He turned his back on us. Is he making a subtle hint that our relationship wasn’t that important to him?

I clear my throat. “Speaking of science, there’s going to be a full moon tonight.”

Gearing the subject elsewhere, we carry our conversation in a different direction. We talk about anything and everything aside from the time period when we were together. We revisit memories when we were friends and discuss ideas we have for upcoming YouTube videos. He asks if we could do a collab. I tell him I’ll think about it.

An hour passes. On the other side of the glass windows, rain is pouring down in heavy sheets. I’m not risking getting my clothes wet, so we’re waiting for the rain to slow down or cease altogether before leaving the coffee shop.

We’ve consumed all our coffee. All we have to keep ourselves productive without resorting to using our phones is talking. For the last hour, I’ve almost forgotten what happened between us. It’s as if our separation never happened and we’re acting like friends spending quality time together after days of being wrapped up in our work schedules.

This is how we were. We were two people that knew how to pass time with nothing but mindless chatter. On camera, the whole world knew how close we were. Off camera, the closeness grew into something beyond friendship.

We became something more. Memories of those blissful months are still fresh in my mind.

But bliss didn’t last forever. Eventually, reality crashed through.

At the start, the love was equal on both sides. As months passed, the love became one-sided. I was unaware that our relationship was inching closer to a halting end.

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t love you anymore.”

“What are you talking about? You’re not making sense. Maybe you need to get some sleep.”

“No. I… It’s not you. You’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Then what is it? You’re making me scared.”

“Don’t be scared, love. I know you love me. I love you too. But the way I love you now isn’t the way you love me.”

“A-Are you breaking up with me?”

“I… I don’t know. I don’t want this to end, but I can’t stay with you. It isn’t fair for you and me. I shouldn’t be with you when you want more and I can’t give that to you.”

He stopped loving me. From all the nights we laid in bed and whispered countless “I love you’s” to each other, I hung on to the idea that we were forever. I built my life around him. I pictured a little boy or girl with his eyes and my hair color, or vice versa. I thought I was foreseeing the remainder of my future with him by my side.

His fire died down. I tried to spread my flames to him in an attempt to light him up again.

I couldn’t reignite the fire.

He left when he realized that he didn’t want to be with me anymore.

We no longer crossed the same path. Somewhere along the way, we reached an intersection. At a fork in the road, we diverged.

Two days ago, the parallel lines reached an intersection.

At this moment, in a coffee shop on a rainy day, I’m unsure of what will happen next. After today, I don’t know if we’re on our way to rebuild our friendship or preparing ourselves for another goodbye.

The rain slows down, morphing from a heavy downpour to a light drizzle. We toss away our coffee cups and head outside. He opens his umbrella. I put my hoodie on.

“Don’t be like that.” He grabs my arm and positions me under the protection of his umbrella. “You’ll get wet.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Don’t be stubborn. My umbrella is big enough for the both of us.”

Of course it is. It’s the same umbrella we’d share whenever we are outside on rainy days. We use it far more often than mine. He’d love to jump into puddles and splash me with the murky water. He wouldn’t care about getting us wet. It was his way to making the best out of a rainy day. My way was treating rainy days as sweater weather, wearing jumpers and sharing kisses next to a fireplace while watching a movie.

“I’ll pass.” I take off on a brisk walk. I could care less about getting wet. Reliving our memories means being sucked back into the past.

He’s easily catches up with me. Before the end of the block, he’s back by my side, holding the umbrella above our heads.

“Where are you going?” he asks. “If you’re going back home, I’ll walk with you.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to.”

And what? See the place where I spent nights wishing we could have another day like today?

He doesn’t live far from me. After he moved out, Zoe told me he found a flat in London that’s a few blocks from the train station. If he lived nearby, then it’s strange to think why we haven’t seen each other around England. YouTube events and parties are the only places we’d be in close proximity with each other. My friends are careful to help me avoid him.

“Don’t you have… you know… someone waiting for you at home?”

He has an confused expression on his face for a few seconds before he understands what I mean. “Oh! Ummm… it’s just me. And Percy. You know, my goldfish.”

“Right.” He mentioned earlier that he has been taking care of a goldfish that he won at a carnival.

“It’s no bother. It’s boring living alone, so I try to get out as much as I can. Meeting up with you is my highlight of today.”

So is mine. I think it’s the highlight of the year thus far.

“Fine.” I brush off droplets of water off my sleeves. “Can’t afford to get a cold again.”

I walk side-by-side with him. We share more random exchanges on the way to my flat. I considered getting a new flatmate after we broke up, though it felt odd to think about having his room belong to someone else. The thought of a different person sleeping on a bed and utilizing a closet that used to be his is unbearable. I may be renting the flat, but I see that room as his and his alone.

That room brings painful memories of happier times. It would be more painful if the memories of that room are replaced by a person I won’t share the same bond as compared to him.

We reach the building of my flat. We go through the lobby and ride up the elevator. On my floor, I fish for my key in my jeans pocket. I unlock the front door. The door swings open and I gesture for him to come inside.

At the lounge, we slip off our shoes and socks. He leaves his umbrella next to his footwear.

His eyes roam around the room. “I miss this place.”

I purse my lips. He has no idea how diverse my feelings are at the fact that’s in here. I have to watch my words. This place is ours. This place gave birth to our friendship. This place was where he showed me that I was worth loving.

You’re the one that misses our flat. I’m the one that misses you.

~:~

He remains in the flat for the rest of the day. We order pizza from Dominoes. We look through my video game collection and play through some of our favorite games (we get mighty competitive at Mario Kart). I use my laptop to put my iTunes library on shuffle (I omit telling him that the songs are from our joint playlist that we created during downtime at a friend’s social).

To an outsider, it seems like an average domestic moment in the flat. If I don’t think about the reality of our situation, I view today as another day spent with a person that once meant the world to me. All that’s missing is the hand-holding and the kisses.

We use ingredients in the fridge and cupboards to make tacos and fajitas for dinner. It’s refreshing to eat Mexican cuisine. It has been a long time since I last ate Mexican food. I don’t think I’ve had a Mexican-style dinner since the days when we were together.

It hits me as I’m adding spices to the fajitas. My grip on the handle of the frying pan tightens.

We were eating Mexican food when we told each other “I love you” for the first time.

“I have something to tell you.”?

“What is it this time? Wait, did you have to pirate another episode of Breaking Bad again?”

“No! If I won’t pirate anime, I won’t be pirating our favorite TV shows.”

“Thank god. So… out with it. I’m not getting any younger.”

“Alright. God, you can be so demanding.”

“That’s not helping the anticipation.”

“It is if I’m telling you that I love you.”

“The tacos are done!” I turn around. He’s smiling at me and holding a hot tray of our homemade tacos.

“Those smell delicious.”

“I know, right?” He places the tray on the kitchen table. “How are the fajitas?”

“It’s coming along.”

“Well, hurry up. Eat the tacos while they’re still hot.”

“I’m on it. Don’t be so demanding.”

“Funny. I thought that was you.”

I pause for a brief moment. Is he doing this on purpose? Is he trying to mess with my head?

How can he mess with your head if you’re not even sure he cares about what you were to him once?

Shoving the thought away, I resume cooking the fajitas. Reconnection. One minute after the next. Every action with no sense of absolute purpose. Going with the current, riding it to an unknown destination. This is how the entire day has been. Unpredictable and holding back subconscious instincts. There’s no certainty of what will happen by midnight.

When the food is fully prepared, we carry it to the kitchen table. He sits down on the same seat where we had candlelit weekend dinners. I grab two bottles of beers from the fridge. Minus the candles, the setting is reminiscent to our home dates.

“No candles?” He grabs one of the bigger metallic spoons and scoops two heaps of fajitas on his plate. “I sort of thought a scented candle would be perfect to put right here.” He eyes a space on the table that’s large enough to place a candle on.

I barely use scented candles anymore. Zoe and Louise occasionally give me one if they are on a shopping haul and want to give me something from their trip. The only times I use them though is when the power goes out in the flat. Scented candles is the smell of regret and demolished dreams.

“I don’t have any,” I say briskly. “Let’s eat, shall we?”

For the first few minutes, we eat in silence. My comment about the candles brought in a new tension in the room. I dismissed his question as quickly as me to leave a classroom after taking an exam in high school. As much as he’s trying to lighten the mood, all it’s doing is inserting memories of our happier times, a past that I wish we can still be living. My second chance is sitting feet away from me, but I’d rather let the opportunity slide than seize it and have it fail me one more time.

“How’s the food?” I ask when we’re in the middle of eating our tacos. For a man that isn’t the best chef in the world, tacos is one of the foods that he doesn’t mess up. The shell is crunchy. The ground meat, vegetables, and grazed cheese melts in my mouth. The sauce has the perfect spice that doesn’t leave me with an inflamed throat.

“Delicious,” he replies with a mouthful of taco. “You’ve outdone yourself with the fajitas again.”

I smile. When it came to Mexican dinner nights, we have our specialties. He does tacos, I do fajitas. It’s a system. It was something that didn’t change. “I’m not here to disappoint.”

“As do I.”

We finish their dinner, and he offers to take care of washing the dishes and silverware.

“No! You’re the guest. You already helped make dinner,” I insist.

“Exactly. I’m your guest, so I shouldn’t sit around and watch you do everything.”

“Yes you can. I say so.”

“Then I’ll beg to differ.” He grabs the dishes with the silverware balanced on top of the circular items and carries them to the kitchen, dropping them into the sink.

“Why are you doing this?” Why is he being so nice? We’re not together anymore. He doesn’t have the right to do things with me anymore. We’re only a little more than acquaintances after how the day progressed. Acquaintances don’t have a solid base to do favors for each other, even if it’s a polite action.

“You know what? That’s it.” He narrows his eyes. “What happened to you? All day, you’ve been a bit moody. I get it. We broke up. We haven’t seen each other in two years. But I’m here now, aren’t I? I’m trying to make things right. I didn’t want to leave you back then, but how else was I supposed to deal with my shame of falling out of love? How am I supposed to tell you that leaving you was how I realized I shouldn’t have stopped loving you?”

“Then why didn’t you come back!” I shout. “TWO YEARS. You threw away what we had. Do you have any idea how many nights I cried, wondering what I could’ve done that made me unlovable? I hoped that you’d change your mind. I hoped my pain would be worth suffering if it meant I’d live to see the day that you’d come back to me. But after a year, nothing. I was forced to come to terms that I was being stupid to still be holding on to you.”

“You’re not stupid.” His eyes softens. “I’m sorry. I still love you. There’s always going to be an us. I won’t leave you again. I was the stupid one to screw things up and give up on you. You were right. We should have tried to fix things.”

“You could have fixed things by coming back,” I snap. “And what makes you think that I’d forgive you so easily? You could be lying about still loving me just so we’d be friends again.”

He glares at me. “After all I said, you’re still stubborn to believe I’d treat you so lowly.”

“It’s not impossible.” I cross my arms. I won’t be treated as a fool by this man again. If he wants us to rebuild our friendship, I can give him that. But he shouldn’t expect me to jump into his arms and get back together. From the two angsty years living on my own, I learned how to prevent myself from being blindsided. Trust wasn’t something that I sold in a can.

“Then I should leave,” he resigns. “If you have given up on me, then there’s no point in asking you to be friends again.”

My blood boils. That was the reason why I hesitated from the idea of giving him another chance. Our relationship ended because he fled. And now he’s choosing to flee for a second time?

“What happened to fighting for us?” I say in a sarcastic tone. “I thought you wanted to make things right. Are you gonna choose to be a coward and hurt me again?”

His jaw goes stiff. “Yes.”

I rein in my impulse to slap him across the face. My fueling anger is close to doing violent actions that I never would have wanted to unleash on him. “Then you are a coward. Why the hell did I ever let you in my life?”

“Because I’d rather be a coward than do something we’ll regret tomorrow.” He grabs my wrists. His touch sends an electrifying shock that knocks the air out of my lungs. “Because being your friend won’t let me make it up to you the way I want to.”

He pushes me against the adjacent wall where the sink is. He relinquishes his hold on my wrists to caress my face in his smooth hands. “Because if I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t have asked you to meet at Starbucks.” He leans closer, his nose brushing the arch of my nose. “Because you never left my mind since we broke up and I’m thinking, ‘Fuck it, if I’m walking out that door in the next five minutes and I’ll never see you again, I can’t leave without proving to you that I’m not lying.’”

His mouth lands a firm kiss on my lips. I’m frozen in place, my widened eyes staring at closed eyes. His mouth is hungry, attacking my lips like I’m the last piece of his favorite cereal in the cereal box. I resist the moan that’s seconds away from escaping. As his tongue traces circles along my sealed mouth, my hands falter from settling at his waist. This is wrong. You didn’t want to give him a second chance. Break away. Push him away now while you still have the chance.

When he pulls back, he looks at me with a dejected expression. “Goodbye, love. Thank you for the proper goodbye.”

His palms inch away from my face. His watery eyes is a bullet shot to my heart. He has no idea how much I want to forgive him. I may have accepted his choice a few months ago, but the memory of the day that he gave me a note before he left for good is still a searing memory.

I thought we were forever, but sometimes forever isn’t for everyone.

My limbs are rigid as I watch him back away from me and walk out the kitchen. My right hand presses against the wall, bracing my body from a probable fall. What am I doing? Why am I not going after him? He kissed me. Every word he spoke was the truth. He took a chance to kiss me, and I reacted with cruelty by doing nothing.

He was the one doing everything to fix things. I was the one that pushed him away. I had wondered if he still cared about me. He did. I should have been happy and ecstatic, not look for an excuse of insincerity to his actions. While he made the moves, I was a statue. I was cold and unchanging. He showed me that the moments that happened today didn’t have to be confined for 24 hours. Today can be tomorrow, tomorrow can be the day afterward, and so on and so forth.

I call his name. I sprint out the kitchen. In the lounge, his shoes are back on and he’s holding his umbrella. The door is open. If I lingered for another second, I would have wasted our intersection.

“Don’t leave.” I swiftly move to the door and slam it. “If you want to make it up to me, stay with me tonight.” He knows what he wants. Will you let yourself do what you want too?

He turns around. His glistening eyes swim with hope. “Do you mean that?”

I nod.

“Can I… Can I kiss you again?”

I smile. Screw logic for one evening. We can talk tomorrow. “Please.”

This time, when he kisses me, our chapped lips match in intensity. Unlike the first kiss, I allow my hands to touch him, dragging up his shoulders and into his hair. The atmosphere within the room is enhanced with a lesser dense air. We’re not holding back. He opens his mouth, and my tongue slips in. He tastes of vanishing grudges. He feels like the first day of spring, the aroma of blooming flowers bursting in a garden and the rays of the sun being the ideal temperature for warmth.

“Bedroom. Now,” I mumble.

We hold hands and retire to my bedroom. The onslaught of lust coursing to the lower half of my body causes a blush to rise on my cheeks. I haven’t been with anyone else since our breakup. Did I remember to stock up on condoms? I kept buying them on the off chance that I might be in the mood for a one-night stand.

I never was. I relied on a subscription to a porn website and many, many pieces of erotic literature.

He tackles me to the bed as soon as we get inside. Clothes are ripped away and thrown haphazardly throughout the room. Three days ago, I didn’t imagine that my Starbucks meet-up with him would end with us here. We were pretty adventurous behind closed doors. There’s a box of toys and other sexy stuff buried somewhere in my closet. We lived through our share of fantasies. But right now, the fantasy we’re living is more similar to our first night together. Stripped down. Just our bare bodies and the darkness enveloping us in a cocoon.

He’s on his back when we’re fully naked. I pepper kisses on the column of his throat, down his chest, teasing his nipples with my tongue and forefingers. By the time I crouch down to his hard member, he’s a panting mess. I fondle the base of his cock with one hand and use my other hand to skim my pointer finger up his shaft. At the tip, I lick the head teasingly. His answering moan encourages me to expand my mouth and take him all in.

“Shit.”

I hum. I love seeing him all worked up.

My mouth takes him in further, his cock hitting the back of my throat. One of my hands continues stroking in the part of him that I can’t fit in my mouth. My other hand squeezes his balls. His moans are getting louder and his hips are arching up to meet my mouth.

“Uh…” he groans. “Stop. I want to come inside you.”

I draw my mouth and hands away, giving the head of his cock a final suck. I grab a condom from the top drawer of my dresser. He watches me with glazed eyes as I rip the wrapper open and put the condom on.

He pushes me on my back and gives me a brief kiss. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

I nod, snaking my arms around his neck. I waited two years for this to come. I’ll be more of an idiot to say no when both of us want this and we’re not depending on alcohol for it to happen.

“Less talking, more fucking.”

He chuckles. “The bed cusser isn’t gone.”

I roll my eyes, but my mouth curves into a small smile. “Shut up.”

He grabs hold of my hips and slides slowly into me. It’s my turn to moan as my insides take in every inch of him. His thrusts gradually picks up speed, and silent screams escape my mouth. The feeling is indescribable. It’s incredible. Amazing. My toes are curling and my heart rate throbs faster against my rib cage. I spread my legs further open, bringing my knees up to the back of his shoulders. The new position causes him to hit my sweet spot, eliciting a guttural moan from me.

“More…” I gasp out. “Fuck me more.”

He smirks. “More, you say?” He stops thrusting and pulls out of me. “On your hands and knees.”

I grin. I do as he commands, flipping my body so my ass is in the air. When he takes control, his dominance is the side of him that’s completely different from his kindhearted personality. He may not be able to harm a kitten, but when he’s in the bedroom, his confidence would make you think twice about defying him.

I yelp when his palms smacks my ass, but the temporary sting is quickly replaced by the feeling of him entering me again. Instead of his initial steady pace, his thrusts are hard and fast. The motions bring me closer to the edge. Our breathy moans and slapping of skin are sounds that bounces off the walls of my room. I crane my head to the side, and I see his face contorted in sheer pleasure.

Incoherent words escape my mouth. My body is slick with sweat and my arms give out. I bury my face into a pillow, his name all I can say when I find my release. I’m shaking and I think I hear my name coming out from his lips too when he climaxes. Quivering, his frantic motions slow down. He lets out a content sigh, letting go of me and me collapsing on the mattress.

My mind is surrounded by a hazy afterglow while I come down from my high. I miss being with him like this. That was the best orgasm I’ve had in months. It doesn’t even compare to the time that we acted out a teacher-student fantasy.

“I love you,” he murmurs. His arms encircle my waist, his lips millimeters from my ear. “I’m yours, and not just for tonight.”

“Do you mean it?” When tomorrow comes, I want to have the hope that what our relationship isn’t entirely lost. I want him to be next to me in the morning, knowing that he sees through my invisible barriers. I want him to be true to his word about still loving me and proving to me that I can trust him again. I want to have my faith in him restored so I too can freely say the three words back to him, like it used to be.

“Yes.” His hands clasps onto mine, his fingers tracing circles on my knuckles. “You’re the one for me. You and only you.”

“Do you belong to me?”

“Always.”

“I’m yours too.” It’ll always be him. No one can ever take his place.

~:~

When I wake up, I hear someone frying something in the kitchen. I squint at the trickle of sunlight that beams through my window. I yawn and rub my eyes. I glance down on the floor and see that our clothes are still on the floor.

Except his boxers.

“Thought you didn’t like going commando,” I say in an amused tone. Laughing to myself, I get off the bed. I gather my clothes and dump it into the laundry basket. In the closet, I put on a clean set of clothes. I forgo freshening up in the bathroom, eager to see what he’s cooking for breakfast.

Strolling into the kitchen, the smell of pancakes hit my nostrils. His bare back is facing me and the apron leaves nothing to the imagination. My mouth is salivating; both for him and the food

“Good morning.”

He turns the stove off and angles his body to face me.

“I made us breakfast.” He puts the frying pancakes down on the stove. “I made our favorite.”

Pancakes. The same breakfast I made for him in bed the morning after we told each other “I love you” for the first time. Seeing him cook the round, flat, battery food is a reminder that my two-year anguish is over. At our intersection, we’re choosing to walk the same path again. But the paved path isn’t how it was before. The path is a representation of the inner battle we fought.

It’s a fresh start. We can’t click on a rewind button to erase the years that tore us apart, but we can learn from our mistakes. We have every second ahead of us to establish new memories.

No more tears. No more aches. Today, it’s a day to begin again.

—O— —O— —O—

Said everything I had to say in the beginning author’s note. This fanfic is the longest DP fic I’ve done so far and it’s my absolute baby (not the longest ever because I have reached 10,000+ in my old Twilight one-shots). I really hope you like it. How I was able to pull off a smut scene is still beyond me. I was rereading Dan’s fanfic The Urge when I had the urge to write this. Hahah… god I have puns as cringeworthy as Phil. 😅

Until next time.

~ AA

Title: Thick and Thin

Word Count: 900+

Pairing: GerAme

Summary: Ludwig has a bad dream and Alfred comforts him (?? i guess???)

Notes: apparently syncing ya breath with your lover calms them?? idk i was looking up random things and stumbled upon that?? also, this is super super cliche but i tend to write cliche things when im having really bad writers block :v 

Last thing: i saw hunters fanart of them (and i cried. legitimately cried) and i thought: ha ha what if alfred never came home b/c he died??? so yeah thats the inspiration for ludwig’s dream in this. thanks hunter :^)) 

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From CIA Analyst to Beer Historian: The Heady Resume of Theresa McCulla

She started her career in the shadows working for the CIA, but a historian at a prestigious Washington museum has been thrust into the limelight after the American press dubbed her job researching beer the “coolest in the world.”

Theresa McCulla, 34, emerged from anonymity in January to be hired by the National Museum of American History as its brewing historian.

As a woman catapulted into an ultra-masculine, multi-billion-dollar industry, McCulla has had to work hard to prove her credibility.

“It is absolutely a cool job,” she told AFP, but “there’s been a sense that you really have to convince people that it’s serious. People say it’s a fun job. It is a fun job, but it’s also a lot of work.”

McCulla – who proudly identifies as feminist – is from a middle-class family in the eastern state of Virginia, and inherited her passion for beer from her father, an enthusiastic home brewer.

Growing up in her rural home in the 1980s, as the US began to discover microbreweries and craft beer, she says it was impossible to take a shower as the cubicle was always filled with “fermenting beer.”

She and her siblings had the job of capping the beer bottles. “It was a lot of overwhelming aromas for a seven- or eight-year-old,” she adds.

Tailor-made job

The family is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the unofficial capital of American beer since the 19th century, when a wave of German immigrants arrived in the city on the shores of Lake Michigan.

But it was as a university student in the same state that beer really began to interest her. Before long though, she was off to Harvard for a Master’s degree in languages, including French, and in 2004 she bagged a job with the CIA as a European media analyst.

“While I was there I became interested in working in food. I wanted to do something more creative. I wanted to get out of a boxed-in environment,” she explains.

After three years, McCulla left US intelligence to devote herself to her passion, and in May she received a doctorate from Harvard, having specialized in the culinary traditions of New Orleans.

Then last July she – along with the nation’s media – spotted the unusual job offer at the museum.

The PR team there jokes that the position could have been tailor-made for her.

Three months after taking up the job, she has begun to criss-cross America, helping to build an archive for the museum on the history of beer.

Part of everyday life

For the moment, it’s the West Coast that has her attention.

Before a trip to Colorado in early May, she went for a few pints in northern California with the founders of the craft brewing movement.

McCulla sees in California the new American El Dorado of beer, modeled on what that state’s Napa Valley has become to wine. The winemakers of the region have even lent brewers some of their equipment.

McCulla thinks the National Museum of American History has done well in documenting the history of food and wine, “but beer is overdue to have its space physically and in the collections.”

Beer and its history have been such a large part of everyday American life, she tells AFP, that it can “allow (us) to ask questions about immigration, labor, consumer taste, advertising… You can look at any era of history and use beer as an engaging lens to look into it.”

Although the trend in the United States is clearly toward craft breweries, the market is still small compared to giants like multinational brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev (makers of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois), which accounts for almost half of total beer sales in the US, according to Nielsen data.

But with small, independent brewers seemingly opening on every street corner, the market may have radically shifted by the time her three-year mission at the museum draws to an end.

“Gosh,” she says, contemplating the task ahead. “It could be a lifetime project.”

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If you’ve seen the critically acclaimed Broadway musical “Hamilton,” then you’ve heard the song “Farmer Refuted.” It’s based on a letter a young Alexander Hamilton wrote — he was barely 20 — offering a passionate defense of individual liberty and the brewing American Revolution. Yet he did not sign it under his own name, instead writing as “a sincere friend of America.”


This overlooked fact deserves greater attention. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical has renewed Americans’ appreciation of Hamilton, one of our nation’s most dynamic founders. Never before have his life and views, from his defense of individual rights to his opposition to slavery, been so celebrated. But Hamilton’s frequent use of anonymous speech has received scant attention, even though it has a significant bearing on American politics today.


Anonymous speech was a frequent feature of Hamilton’s life — and of the American founding overall. Arguably the single most influential piece leading to American independence was “Common Sense,” the pamphlet penned by Thomas Paine anonymously. Just over a decade later, Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay co-wrote the Federalist Papers as “Publius.”


These were not unconnected or uncommon occurrences. The United States was built in large part on the exchange of ideas circulated anonymously. In the years before the Declaration of Independence, anonymous speech was one of the greatest weapons the colonists used against the tyrant King George III. As for the Constitution, had Publius and others not anonymously dialogued in newspapers about the equally revolutionary document, it might never have been adopted, nor would have the subsequent Bill of Rights with its First Amendment guarantee of free speech.


The bottom line is that it is highly probable that the United States would not even exist without anonymous speech. Sadly, we have forgotten this lesson somewhere in the intervening years. Today, anonymous speech is too often demonized, derided as “dark,” or otherwise dismissed for its lack of “transparency.”


Although there are many examples, the brunt of these attacks centers on the anonymous speech used by nonprofit organizations on both the right and the left. These groups reach out to the public with messages on a wide number of issues, and they can be supported by individuals, corporations, unions and more. The nationwide campaign against anonymous speech is, by and large, a campaign to force these supporters’ identities into the open.


[…]


Some opponents of anonymous political speech claim it enables businesses and individuals to advocate in secret for government policies that benefit themselves. But an idea aired in the public forum — whether it’s suggested by an individual, nonprofit or business — doesn’t mandate an action. It asks people to evaluate the merits of the argument and to decide for themselves if the proposed change would advance society. As then-Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission in 1995, “ ‘the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.’ . . . Don’t underestimate the common man. People are intelligent enough to evaluate the source of an anonymous writing.” Perhaps we should have more faith that voters — and reporters — are smart enough to smell a rat.


When anonymous speech flourishes, ideas that are unpopular, controversial and revolutionary have a much better chance of finding their way into the public square and gaining wider public acceptance. Absent anonymous speech, America’s political discourse would become less vibrant, more impoverished. Hamilton proved it.

2

Bell’s “Kalamazoo Stout”

88 B+


Kalamazoo Stout is an American Stout brewed with licorice. This belongs on Bell’s year-round lineup, and is sold in six-packs. Aromas carry evident notes of coffee, smoked barley, oats, and cocoa powder.


The palate begins smooth and chocolatey before malts develop a roasted edge of coffee. A mouth full of grains adds satisfactory details. Dull bitterness couples to the malt roast to magnify the sense of depth. Hops impart a mildly tart highlight to the back-end, tasting somewhat like dark fruit with a delicate touch of licorice. Charred malt notes continue to linger past the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is very creamy, then shifts toward a coarser feel with a dry conclusion. The flavor decay is rather abrupt, certain to leave one eager for subsequent sips. The body weight is a tad thin for this style, but certainly allows for easy drinking.


Since I so often locate licorice notes in Stouts, it is a very natural addition to the brew. Don’t be off-put by the licorice, because it’s so faint, you probably wouldn’t even guess it were there in a blind taste test. In terms of style, the sweetness is light, so the roast tastes deeper than it might otherwise. I really dig the balance, bold flavor, and drinkability. It doesn’t shout at you, so I think it’s a good study on the foundations of the style. It won’t outright impress you, but it’s a solid Stout that’s worth checking out if you’re into this style.


6.0%

? IBU

Kalamazoo, Michigan